Hysteria is the state of unmanageable fear or emotional excesses whereby a crisis renders us paralysed to act to address our situation.
So for the many passionate, articulate and striving-to-be-authentic peers I have encountered down through the last ten years around the island of Ireland who can diagnose with pinpoint accuracy how Christianity in the form of the church has failed them, hurt them, bored them, underwhelmed them or otherwise turned them off; is hysteria not appropriate word to describe them?
You sit here and read this. And you may well be hysterical.
You might be a Roman Catholic living a liturgy-haunted world or a born and bred Presbyterian who really hates how staid and formal church can be or maybe you are a burnt Pentecostal who is rebelling against anti-intellectualism. It doesn’t matter where you came from. If you have been able to see scars or sicknesses in the Body, then it is your job to get stuck in and fix them. The dugout is not an option for the Christian, nevermind the grandstand or even more commonly, the reports in the sports pages the next day. We have to be on the field playing the game and honing our skills.
If you can identify the problems or a problem within the church, if a local body of Christians has let you down or judged you or hurt you, then you have the means at your disposal to make a difference. Get in there and make the changes needed. Or get together and create new formulations based around the things you have learned together. To back away and be consumed by your disappointments, to be paralysed by your insight that the church is not finished yet, that is hysterical.
There is no beauty that can compare with God. There is no potential greater than local groups of Jesus people. There is nothing the world needs more than grace. But when I look around at Irish Christians in their 20’s, with respect and acknowledgement that I am way out of bounds to even try to make the judgment, I see people who are either busy cursing religious practice for being religious from a distance or people who are falling into a kind of religious practice with better style, devoid of the scalpel sharpness of authentic Christian communities.
We need alternatives. But we need you to craft them.
Take a deep breath. Remember where we’re called to go. And push back against the hysteria.
Your Correspondent, He didn’t come in here to do no conquering, he came in here to do a little bargaining